The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, insisted Sunday that she’s taking a tough stance on Russia even as President Donald Trump is mired in controversy over the White House’s conduct in the congressional investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election.
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” and CBS’s “Face the Nation,” the former governor of South Carolina, who was confirmed as ambassador in January, was unequivocal about Russia’s meddling in last year’s U.S. election.
“Well, certainly, I think Russia was involved in the election,” she told ABC’s Martha Raddatz. “There’s no question about that. And I think when they finish with all of this process, yes, they need to address Russia, they need to act, and they need to make sure they’re loud about it.
“We don’t want any country involved in our elections ever.”
In her appointment hearing, Haley said she had starkly different views from Trump, especially on Russia. Trump has said he respects Russian President Vladimir Putin and thinks the latter is a better leader than former president Barack Obama. Trump has called questions about apparent Russian tampering in the 2016 race “fake news” and blamed such allegations on Democrats, who he says are still sore over losing the election. Democrats have retorted that Trump and his tweets are an attempt to distract Congress and the nation from the investigation.
Haley said Sunday that she doesn’t trust Putin. Last month, she told NBC’s Matt Lauer, “We cannot trust Russia. We should never trust Russia.”
As ambassador, Haley said Sunday, she had no hesitation taking Russia to task on actions with which the United States disagrees – and that she had received no instructions from Trump to pull punches.
“There’s certain things, when they do something wrong, I have no problem calling them out on it,” she said.
“He is not stopping me from beating up on Russia,” she said. “He’s not stopping me from talking about the pressure that China needs to be putting on North Korea. He’s not stopping me on how we’re working together to defeat ISIS.” ISIS is an alternative acronym for the Islamic State militant group.
Meanwhile, Trump tweeted Sunday that the media should focus on leaks within his administration.
Although Haley said she didn’t trust Russia or Putin, she conceded that the United States needed them to deal with bigger problems.
“We need their pressure when it comes to dealing with ISIS, and we also need their pressure when it comes to dealing with China and North Korea,” she told Raddatz.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Cleve R. Wootson Jr.